Brunei Darussalam is fighting back against obesity. Too many of us eat and drink too much, especially foods high in sugars and saturated fats. What is clear is that with the appropriate levels of nutrition, obesity is preventable. Portion control, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and reduced intake of sugary food and drink are all key actions that every one of us must take to keep ourselves and our families healthy.
Indeed, many of us started the New Year with resolutions to live healthier lifestyles particularly in the way we eat. However, when we are at supermarkets and food premises, we find ourselves confronted with an array of food options. Some of these are healthier choices, but many others are high in calories and low in nutritional value. It can be hard to decide which of these are healthier, and sometimes, despite our best intentions, we select foods that are bad for us.
In line with supporting consumers to make healthier choices for themselves, and true to the vision of a society where Health is Everyone's Business, the Health Promotion Centre at the Ministry of Health is actively working with the food industry and other supporting agencies. On 7th February 2017, a "Healthier Choice Initiative Workshop with Food Industries" was conducted. Its aim is to create a local market environment where healthy options are available for consumers. The one day workshop was attended by 100 participants from government agencies, food industries, local SMEs and local restaurant owners.
At this workshop, the Ministry of Health Healthier Choice Logo was introduced. This is a key development that empowers consumers to distinguish between the various food options on offer. This logo, with the image of a heart and a tick, is a positive front-of-pack logo for food and beverage products. The Healthier Choice Logo on packaged food products indicates that they are healthier options, and this helps consumers to make informed food choices when deciding what to purchase. Products carrying the Healthier Choice Logo are generally lower in total fat, saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Some are also higher in dietary fibre and calcium compared to similar products within the same food category. Food and drink products that meet the Brunei Nutrient Criteria, will be able to use this Healthier Choice Logo on their products.
Participants at the workshop expressed a strongly positive reaction to this new initiative. One participant described it as a way for them to differentiate their products from their competitors. Another said that being able to affix the Healthier Choice Logo to his product would be an added incentive for him to look at changing his products recipes to be able to market it as a healthier option. Other participants hoped to see more local products with this logo in the market.
The Ministry of Health welcomes interested parties seeking more information about this product to get in touch with the Health Promotion Centre via Talian Darussalam 123.